U.S. Navy concludes South China Sea patrols

U.S. Navy’s carrier strike group has concluded South China Sea patrols and moved into the Philippine Sea through the Luzon Strait, the Navy said on March 7.

The John C. Stennis Strike Group (JCSSG) operated in the South China Sea, March 1 through March 6.

It was the crew’s first time operating there since their regularly scheduled deployment began January 15.

The JCSSG conducted daily flight operations and a replenishment-at-sea during their transit, receiving advanced bio fuel, aviation fuel, and supplies from USNS Rainier (T-AOE 7).

While operating in the South China Sea, the crew sharpened their skills in one of the most heavily trafficked areas in the world. Roughly $5 trillion in trade is shipped through the South China Sea every year.

Additionally, People’s Liberation Army (Navy) ships remained in the vicinity of Stennis during its time in the South China Sea. All bridge-to-bridge interactions between the Sailors of both navies were professional.

Commander Tom Ogden, commanding officer of USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93), said: “Based on the bridge-to-bridge communications USS Chung-Hoon had with the PLA(N) ships, it is clear that the Chinese Navy prides itself on professional communications and interactions.”

Rear Adm. Ronald Boxall, JCSSG’s commander, said he is not surprised by other countries’ interests in the strike group: “We’re exercising our right to operate in international waters. Our presence here promotes peace and stability in the region.”

The strike group is comprised of Stennis with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 21 embarked, Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93), USS Stockdale (DDG 106), USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110), and Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53).